Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Asbestos
There often are hurdles to jump and red tape to unravel, but U.S. military veterans with asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma are entitled to assistance from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The trick is navigating veterans through the often-frustrating government system to receive them.
Disability Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, and VA Health Care, are among the many benefits available to veterans, provided they understand how to qualify.
Our Veterans Department at the Mesothelioma Center can help ease the strain and, in fact, is designed to do just that. One of our VA Accredited Claims Agents can walk you step by step through the process to make it easier. Our VSOs are trained to help veterans file claims for Disability Compensation, for health-care benefits and for Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits.
Disability Compensation is a monthly benefit based upon a veteran's level of disability. These benefits are based on a rating from the VA, and those ratings range from 0 percent to 100 percent. Cancers like mesothelioma are considered 100 percent disabling, which would qualify for the maximum monthly benefit of $2,769.
Benefits can increase. Those increases are based on how many dependents the veteran has. A veteran needs to have been discharged under any condition that is not dishonorable, to start the process. He/she then must show that the asbestos illness stemmed from military service.
Throughout the 20th century asbestos was everywhere in the U.S. military. It was most prevalent on Navy ships, but veterans from the Army, Air Force and Marines also were exposed regularly. Asbestos was where they worked, slept and even ate. Asbestos was part of the floors, roofs, and walls of most military bases.
Those are key facts to know because they can relate directly to VA benefits. When it comes to asbestos exposure with diseases like lung cancer or mesothelioma, a veteran must convince the VA that the illness is "as likely as not" to have stemmed from active duty. The VA's standard is that at least half of a veteran's lifetime exposure to asbestos must have occurred during military service. With lung cancer, a veteran must have medical evidence from a doctor that attributes the disease to active-duty asbestos exposure, and not from smoking.
An experienced VA Accredited Claims Agent at the Mesothelioma Center can help a veteran write his Asbestos Exposure Summary to the VA, assisting him in providing the proper documentation that is necessary to qualify for benefits.
To reach one of our Claims Agents for help in evaluating your situation, or to apply for health-care benefits, contact our Veterans Department.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, also known as DIC, is a monthly benefit paid to the surviving spouse of a veteran who died from a service-related disability. The benefit is $1,195.
If the veteran already was receiving Disability Compensation for mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer when he died, the spouse only needs to file a DIC claim. But even if the veteran was not receiving service-related compensation, the spouse still may be eligible for DIC, provided that additional information regarding asbestos-exposure can be produced.
Health Care Benefits
Eligibility for VA Health Care is determined by a classification system that categorizes veterans, based upon a series of priorities that include service-related disabilities or income levels. There also are special circumstances that include being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, being a former POW, or earning a Purple Heart.
For veterans with an asbestos-related illness, enrollment would be tied either to a determination that the illness was service related, or to income level. The VA uses two different income limits: A National Income Threshold, and a Geographical-Adjusted Income Threshold. Qualifying under the income level category may require co-pays for health services.